Sergeant Major (Retired) William H. Messerschmidt was principal percussionist/
percussion group leader of the United States Army Band (Pershing’s Own) at
Washington, D.C. from 1994-2002. A special bandsman for 32 years (1969-2002), he first served with the U.S. Army Field Band, the Army’s Official Touring Band from 1969-1974 and then with Pershing’s Own, performing in 49 states and 16 foreign countries for six U.S. Presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Akihito, Mikhail Gorbachev and Pope John Paul II and appearing as solo clinician, marimba soloist and special drummer at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1979, as timpanist with Pershing’s Own he performed music from “West Side Story” under Leonard Bernstein at the Kennedy Center reception for Deng Xiaoping, Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, for the very first U.S. visit by any leader of the PRC. One of the most poignant moments in his career was serving as timpanist with the U.S. Army Orchestra in the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service for the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 at Washington National Cathedral on Sept. 14, 2001 that was attended by five U.S. presidents.
Prior to military service, he received a Bachelor of Music with Distinction in Applied Percussion degree from the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, N.Y., where he studied with William Street and John H. Beck. In later years he pursued graduate studies with Michael Bookspan of the Philadelphia Orchestra and has performed ad hoc with the Buffalo, Harrisburg, Prince William, Chesapeake, Lynchburg, Shenandoah, Richmond, Annapolis and Roanoke Symphony Orchestras; as well as with the Cathedral of St. Thomas More Brass at Arlington, VA; The National Christian Choir and the Baltimore Opera Company.
Since 2003 he has been 1st field drummer with the Fifes and Drums of Prince William III, a professional corps, which has worked at such venues as the U.S. Naval Academy and Mt. Vernon for such notables as David McCullough, Prince Andrew, Lynne Cheney and Laura Bush. He also currently serves as 1st percussionist with The Capital Band, a professional ensemble providing music (colonial to contemporary) for events in the national capital area, such as the opening of the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in Washington, D.C. in 2006.
Currently, he teaches for Northern Virginia Community College, Christ Chapel Academy in Woodbridge and for Ms. Melinda McKenzie-Hall, Director of Bands at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax County, VA. His students have achieved success as educators and performers, e.g., with The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, The U.S. Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and The U.S. Army Band (Pershing’s Own) at Washington, D.C. and have attended schools such as Indiana (Bloomington), Michigan, LSU, the University of North Texas and The Curtis Institute of Music.
His affiliations include Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education; American Federation of Musicians; The College Music Society; MENC; National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors; National Association of Rudimental Drummers; Percussive Arts Society; Sabian Artists; U.S. Association of Rudimental Drummers; and the Vic Firth Education Team. Honors include The Army Achievement Medal (5), The Army Commendation Medal (2) and The Meritorious Service Medal; being named an “Outstanding Educator” by the Virginia Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts in 2003; and appearing in Marquis “Who’s Who in the World” (2005-06). In April 2002, the President of the United States of America awarded the Legion of Merit to Sgt. Maj. Messerschmidt for “his outstanding record of musical performance and leadership.”